I’D never heard of a car called the Delaunay-Belleville until I saw a colour picture of one in Collector Cars of Australia.
It’s a book by photographer Ken Stepnell, just published by New Holland, and the 384-page work has about 1100 pictures.
Apart from the Delaunay-Belleville, which dates back to 1907 and was sometimes called the French Rolls-Royce, there’s also the Vinot-Deguingand, the Auto-Carrier, Tau and several other rarities among the very many better-known models.
The work took Stepnell many years and lots of nationwide travel and is nicely divided into cars of the Edwardian era, the vintage period of 1919 to 1930, classic cars up to 1945 and post-classics.
Pity then that it’s liberally peppered with inaccuracies.
Ettore Bugatti, for example, would do a somersault in his grave to learn that his famous Bugatti Tipo 35 had a V8 engine.
Non, non! Sacre bleu! It was a 2.0-litre straight-eight, mon ami – as the picture shows.
The ‘1957 MG Magnette ZA’ pictured is actually a ZB and the car on the same page, identified as a Magnette ZB is an MG-A coupe.
It goes on to say the ‘vertical chrome grille bars on both the Morris and the MG (Magnette) looked identical but buyers got more for their money with the MG.’
No Morris of that era looked remotely like an MG Magnette.
The Wolseley 4/44 (from the same BMC stable) was the one with similar looks – and it came with a genuine MG 1250cc XPAG engine, so it was actually more of a genuine MG than the Magnette, which had the B-Series 1.5-litre motor. But you won’t find that in Collector Cars of Australia.
On the same page is another picture of an MG-A, identified only as a ‘1957 MG’ and the caption says they ‘were still popular with ladies who wish to attend car rallies.’
So the MG it’s a ladies car, then? Oh dear.
VW’s Golf ‘was built to replace the famous Beetle, sales have been good, but not as popular as the previous model.’
Last I saw Golf had sold something like 34 million, compared to the Beetle’s 22 million. It is VW’s most successful model.
Porsche fans will wonder why the two pictures on page 272 are of the same car, although one is identified as a 911 and the other a 944.
And then there’s a vehicle the book calls a Willy.
It sure wouldn’t sell with a moniker like that, but the famed maker of the Willys Jeep and other models did pretty well through the years.
That ‘s’ makes all the difference – and it’s pronounced ‘Willis.’
Also, there’s no ‘e’ in Goggomobil and Herr Goering’s christian name was Hermann, not as in Herman’s Hermits.
The Volvo 240 GLE had a ‘stayed’ appearance? Assume he meant ‘staid’ – but most Volvo owners would dispute that.
If you look for Alfa Romeo in the index, well, it’s not there.
Instead, look under Albion.
Once you find it you can read that the 1976 Alfa Romeo ‘Spyder’ (it’s Spider in Alfa-speak) as ‘first launched in 1966.’
No. The first was the Alfa’s lovely Giulietta Spider, styled by Bertone, six years before the Pininfarina design.
And so it goes.
In summary, Collector Cars of Australia is big on pictures, short on accuracy and sadly lacking in writing style.
It costs $45.